Sailing into Headwinds


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A recent opinion piece by Michael Meotti in EdSurge makes the case for colleges and universities to move forward regarding learning analytics. More eloquently than I could, Michael lays out the case for engaging in analytics across the institution and addressing the to-be-expected resistance of some staff and faculty that he sees emerging.

“A debate between academics and entrepreneurial types will definitely trigger a lot of sensitivity to turf and a battle over who is the smartest voice in the room. But given that students and broader societal needs should come first, this discussion needs to be based on those goals and not on the personal preferences of the involved parties …” -Michael Meotti

His quote (at left) is spot on. In our work with institutions, we encounter these headwinds occasionally – the best way to sail into headwinds is to tack into them. In other words, ensure that all parties are aligned to the goal of student success, which may mean moving obliquely to, but in concert with, all of the various stakeholders.

Sharing the goals of the various initiatives can be a great place to start building alliances.

Meotti identifies four key themes that college leadership and faculty should embrace when engaging in this work.

  • Don’t be an ostrich
    Meaning: You have an obligation to become engaged in this work – there’s the obligation of knowing it can make a positive difference
  • A firm grip can be fatal
    Meaning: Be open to working with partners
  • Buyer and user beware
    Meaning: Be ready to invest money and time in order to reap the benefits of analytics work, but buy wisely
  • Look for help from your peers across the country
    Meaning: We are all learning together in this work, and engaging across sectors speeds the learning for all. Every ship rises with this tide.

Read Meotti’s article in EdSurge

In particular, one of his points hit home for me:

“There’s no solution in a box that lessens your obligation to be deeply engaged in understanding both the analytics and their application to the students you serve.”

While many continue to search for it, there simply isn’t a “silver bullet” that will solve the student retention and student success issue.

Our work is centered on engaging directly with institutions to build the knowledge and the culture required to connect predictive analytics to student success.

They’re doing hard work because they’re committed to student success.

You can hear more from Michael Meotti here:
website,   Linkedin profile, Twitter (@meotti).


Dr. Rob Robinson

Dr. Rob Robinson is the Senior Director of Strategic Services at Civitas Learning where he works with colleges and universities to help them leverage data analytics to further their mission of student success. Prior to coming to Civitas Learning, Rob was a Principal Strategist at Blackboard, an Assistant Vice Provost for Educational Technology at the University of Texas at San Antonio and a key leader with the University of Texas TeleCampus, a large-scale, System-wide organization supporting fully online degree programs, many of which were inter-institutional collaborative programs.

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